Little Girl, You Need a License for That Fruit Stand

Lynne Kiesling

Here’s my cynical, anti-authoritarian link of the day: the mayor of Clayton, California shut down a fruit stand run by two little girls because it was a commercial enterprise in an area not zoned for commerce.

Hilariously, the mayor defends the decision to shut down this tiny lesson in capitalism, preferring to make it a tiny lesson in bureaucracy instead. His defense:

“They may start out with a little card-table and selling a couple of things, but then who is to say what else they have. Is all the produce made there, do they grow it themselves? Are they going to have eggs and chickens for sale next,” said Clayton Mayor Gregg Manning.

The mayor later called the girls and their father “self-centered.”

See also the Boing Boing post on the subject as well.

This may sound like it’s not that big a deal to you, but I think it’s disgusting on many levels (and given the comment volume on the Reason and Boing Boing posts, I’m not alone). I hope this guy gets sufficiently ridiculed that he’s voted out of office at the next election.

And if you want to see the bureaucratic process at work, check out the 19-page “produce stand/veggie stand ‘information’ ” document that the city has produced to detail the nefarious lawlessness of the girls and their parents, and to attempt to justify their bureaucratic approach as “balancing” the interests of many different groups in the community. Here’s a money quote:

Staff has determined that the outside sales activity involved in a residential zoning district is contrary to Chapter 17.71 Home Occupation Permits of the City of Clayton Zoning Ordinance and, therefore, is not allowed … Chapter 17.71 focuses on allowing residents in residential districts in Clayton to conduct limited commercial activities within a dwelling unit, and not allowing outside sales or external evidence of business activity.

I’m practically speechless. Well, I’m speechless in the realm of things that I am willing to say here in print for posterity. But you can imagine the colorful rant that the KP Spouse and I will enjoy over dinner this evening … and I may even go out and buy some dinner fixins from a roadside stand “in a residential area”, to celebrate the relative liberty that those sellers and I enjoy for not being in Clayton, California.

3 thoughts on “Little Girl, You Need a License for That Fruit Stand

  1. One can only imagine what might have happened had the family lived in a community with an active homeowners association. Certainly the girls fruit stand is far more objectionable than an American flag on a flagpole in the front yard; or a political sign in the front lawn; or grass which is 1″ too long.

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